Youth Orchestras of Namibia (YONA) is inspired by the Venezuelan El Sistema (which has been activating social change through music since 1975).

Youth Orchestras of Namibia (YONA) is a movement with the vision to transform the lives of youth through music. YONA’s mission is to provide an intensive music program that develops a sense of belonging, teaches the importance of teamwork and a strong work ethic, and promotes self-confidence and good citizenship. The overarching principle is to advance children first and music second.

The backbone of the program involves various orchestras for youth, from early childhood through to adolescence:

  • Early childhood: choirs, string, percussion and recorder orchestras.
  • Intermediate phase: string, woodwind and brass orchestras.
  • Advanced stage: symphony orchestra.

As the program develops, provision also needs to be made for individual lessons and mentorship. Part of the success of such a program is outreach into the community through frequent concerts. The aim is firstly to reach economically and socially vulnerable children; but the program will be accessible to all Namibian youth, regardless of creed, ethnicity, gender or financial means.

The most miserable and tragic thing about poverty is not the lack of bread or roof, but the feeling of being no-one – the feeling of not being anyone, the lack of identification, the lack of public esteem
Mother Theresa

The pilot project will be at Suiderhof Primary School, Windhoek. This school has been chosen for its central location, good infrastructure and the availability of pianos and some percussion instruments. The student body is representative of most of the culture groups in Namibia. Many of the learners are from low-income families, and many of them are at the school until 17:00 each day. (although school closes at 13:00)